United States v. George - 228 U.S. 14 (1913)
U.S. Supreme Court
United States v. George, 228 U.S. 14 (1913)
United States v. George
Argued February 26, 1913
Decided March 24, 1913
228 U.S. 14
Quaere whether the Criminal Appeals Act of March 2, 1907, does not require an explicit declaration of the law upon which the indictment is based and a ruling on its validity and construction, and whether, on an appeal taken under that act. the government can seek to sustain the indictment as valid under other statutes than those relied upon in the trial court.
An indictment for perjury under § 5392, Rev.Stat., cannot be based on an affidavit not authorized or required by any law of the United States.
Sections 161, 441, 453, 2246 and 2478, Rev.Stat., confer administrative power only on the Secretary of the Interior and the officers of the Land Department. They do not confer legislative power.
There is a distinction between legislative and administrative functions, and under a statutory power to make regulations, an administrative officer cannot abridge or enlarge the conditions imposed by statute.
Section 2291, Rev.Stat., prescribes what a homestead claimant and the witnesses are required to make oath to and the Secretary of the Interior has no power to enlarge these requirements.
A charge of crime against the United States must have clear legislative basis.
A homestead claimant making an affidavit not required by § 2291, Rev.Stat., is not guilty of perjury under § 5392, Rev.Stat., although the affidavit was demanded by the Land Office in pursuance of a regulation made by the Secretary of the Interior.
The facts, which involve the construction of § 5392, Rev.Stat., and the validity of an indictment thereunder for perjury, are stated in the opinion.